On Wednesday, January 15, 2014 the sports blog Grantland.com published an 8,000 word story by Caleb Hannan titled "Dr. V's Magical Putter." What began as a story about the technology behind the "scientifically superior" Yar golf club devolved into an investigation of its inventor, Essay Anne Vanderbilt, also known as Dr. V.
While fact-checking Dr. V's academic background, Hannan discovered that Dr. V was a transgender woman. When Dr. V learned that Hannan planned to reveal her transgender status in his article, she demanded that he respect her privacy - describing being outed against her will as a "hate crime." Hannan refused to acknowledge her request for privacy, and Dr. V committed suicide in October, 2013.
In the Grantland.com article, Hannan uses male pronouns to refer to Dr. V once he discovers she is transgender, and does not acknowledge that he has done anything inappropriate. In fact, the tone of the article is smug self-congratulation for "solving" the Big Mystery of Dr. V's past.
It is never appropriate to out a transgender person. Statistics show that transgender people - particularly transgender women - are subjected to incredibly high levels of discrimination and violence. In 2012, 53% of anti-LGBT homicide victims were transgender women. The report "Injustice at Every Turn" found that transgender people experience unemployment at twice the rate of the general population, with rates for people of color up to four times the national unemployment rate. And 41% of survey respondents reported attempting suicide, compared to 1.6% of the general population.
The response from transgender advocates and mainstream media outlets has been swift and direct. We've collected several of these stories here. Many trans advocates and allies are discussing and sharing their thoughts about this disturbing article - and calling for a response from Grantland.com - using the hashtag #JusticeforDrV
GLAAD has reached out to ESPN, as Grantland.com is affiliated with ESPN Internet Ventures. We will post an update in the near future.
To read more about this problematic article, please check out the links below.
"'Nobody knows my life but me': An elegy for Dr. V" (Feministing.com)
"The Mistake That Doomed The Grantland Story About a Putter" (NewRepublic.com)
"Transgender People Are Paying The Price For The Media's Willful Ignorance" (Buzzfeed.com)
"10 Questions Bill Simmons And ESPN Should Answer About 'Dr. V's Magical Putter'" (ThinkProgress.org)
Dr. V Is Dead, Caleb Hannan Is Celebrated: Why We Can't Accept Lazy, Transmisogynistic Journalism" (Autostraddle.com)
"Digging Too Deep: Grantland's exposé of a trans con artist privileged fact-finding over compassion" (Slate.com)
"Twitter Explodes After Trans Subject of Golf Article Kills Herself" (Gawker.com)
"How ESPN and Grantland desperately failed the trans community" (Outsports.com)
"Trans Woman Commits Suicide Amid Fear of Outing by Sports Blog" (Jezebel.com)